Thursday, 7 December 2017

The SEDIMENT Xmas Wine Gift Marketplace

Here they are, the ideal Xmas gifts for wine lovers! 

Of course, our entertaining book is the best possible present for anyone who drinks wine – or, indeed, doesn’t. But whatever you do, don’t just buy wine lovers a bottle of wine, however much they might like it, oh no – not when there are these super Xmas wine-related gifts out there!

Wine Monkey
This sock-like, monkey-like woolly wine bottle cover will bring laughter and merriment to any dinner party. Just look at the happy faces of these dinner guests as Wine Monkey arrives at their table! They’re not arguing about Brexit any more! Conveniently disguises any embarrassingly cheap supermarket wine*. Keeps red wine tepid and white wine…tepid. *Not suitable for Mateus Rosé.

Upside down wine glass
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? Well, “bottoms up!” This looks as if it’s a regular wine glass – but upside down! Endlessly amusing! It’s all fun and games – just wait until someone stands it the other way up, and accidentally pours wine on to the sealed end, whence it cascades across tablecloth, guests’ laps etc! 

Wine Markers
Just as you’ve always wanted, your guests can now write on your wine glasses! Avoids those heated dining-table arguments over whose glass is whose. Will definitely not come off on to guests’ hands, napkins, shirt-cuffs etc.

Wonky wine glasses
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? Enjoy the distortion of a second bottle from your very first glass, with these wonky wine glasses! Tipsy – or what?? It’s all fun and games – just wait until you try and put them in the dishwasher!

Wine-scented candles
Save your friends the trouble of spilling their wine all over their carpet in order to scent their room! These candles not only “evoke the scent” of wines like Pinot Noir or, er, Mimosa – they smell like a specific vintage! And as a remarkable liver-relieving bonus, they evoke wine’s “soothing effect” too! Not included: matches, respirator.

Moustache corkscrew
For that brief moment of amusement as you hold it to your upper lip, and possibly go “haw-hee-haw”, followed by many happy years in a kitchen drawer. Guaranteed to last until the plastic moustache bit detaches itself from the thread. Not suitable for removing corks.

Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? If your oafish friends all drink beer, enjoy your wine in this clever wineglass/beer mug, and feel like one of the loutish crowd! It’s all fun and games, until you get beaten up.

Santa’s stocking flask
Don’t you wish you were at this party? Wine in plastic cups from a plastic bladder-like contraption, vaguely reminiscent of a Christmas stocking. Comes with an accompanying freshers guide to a non-Russell Group university. Warning: not a pinata

Wine storage box
Yes! Now you can store four bottles of wine, upright, in an old wooden box! Fit for any table! This genuinely French authentic Bordeaux storage box has travelled straight “from cave to table”, pausing only to translate the words on the side into English. Bottles sold separately.

Guzzler wine glass
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? This glass jams into the neck and allows you to drink straight from the bottle, in a way that’s amusing rather than socially unacceptable! Laugh? You’ll wet yourself. Indeed, it’s all fun and games – just wait until the wine rushes into the glass, over your mouth and nose and down over your clothes! Choking hazard.

Cork shadow box
This is so much more than just a picture frame box with a hole through which you can poke your old corks. This is the ideal way of displaying your excessive consumption to visitors with a jumble of partially stained old corks. Relive those special occasions, when the corkscrew thread went just through the side of the cork! Comes with one (1) partially stained cork to start your collection. Not suitable for screwcaps


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Another Day, Another App

So I'm starting to think we must have reached a new phase in man's progress from the primordial slime to the stars when, still boggling over wotwine, I'm told about this: An Augmented Reality App which Will Bring Your Wine Bottle To Life. Actually, just writing it down makes me partly lose the will to live, but no, this is where the world is going, this is the kind of thing the millenials dig, so I mustn't be off-trend about it, I must embrace the now.

Which is? Look, it's easier if you just watch the video: this more or less explains how, if you buy a bottle of 19 Crimes Australian red - marketed by the all-conquering Treasury Wine Estates, a company that also handles Blossom Hill, Penfolds, Wolf Blass - then download the 19 Crimes app onto your phone and point that phone at the label of the bottle, the grizzled face depicted on the label will come to life on your phone and start bending your ear about the real-life crime he or she committed, or at least was convicted of, in the nineteenth century and which led to her or his transportation from England to Australia. For the sake of my children, I begged for mercy, says one; Forgive me for caring more about myself than the cause, announces another, with a sneer. Little faces! Talking at you!

A bit weird for the dinner-table? Well, yes, except that, as the website (that old thing) explains, 'For the rough-hewn prisoners who made it to shore, a new world awaited.
As pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This wine celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built.' In other words, it's all positive. You can even Connect with the gang and Join the banished if you're so absolutely parched for stimulation that joining a virtual society of deceased ex-cons who exist only to gimmick up an extremely small range of reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend and something called Dark Red) seems like a good idea. Why not? It's that or wasting the evening on a re-run of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, so you might as well.

And of course it's not so much the product itself, the 19 Crimes, which is significant, but what it represents. You can see it coming, like bad weather across a sound, a new dispensation in which wines of all sorts will talk to us, or play music, or host an impromptu quiz when they sense that the chit-chat round the table has got onto Donald Trump again, and what do you know? John XXII is looming out of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape bottle and asking us, in guttural Mediaeval French, how late the trains run because he has to get back to town? Or the bay on the front of your Oyster Bay starts making soothing lapping sounds, broken only by the bleating of sheep and foul-mouthed bucolic New Zealand banter from unseen shepherds and winemakers? Or raised voices are heard coming from the villa on the Chianti label and after a while you realise that it's you they're shouting about, and not in a friendly way either, particularly unnerving as you're drinking on your own and already regretting it? Or the cockerel on your Le Réveil starts crowing and will not shut up, not even when you stuff it in the recycling bin and heap empty soup cartons and bleach bottles on it?

And the wine? Wine is such a twentieth century thing. Do we really need to think about the wine? How does wine even fit into a world of constant intermediations from ongoing digital reference points? How do we find the time to drink a glassful before we have to share the experience with one or more digital platforms while the AI is toiling away in the background, cloudbasing our subjectivities into a worldpermeable interface which then allows someone from Abilene, Texas, to address us, mid-drink, live from the label on the wine bottle and suggest that maybe the tannins are a bit overdone? See, this is augmented reality and if anyone says that wine in and of itself is quite capable of augmenting reality, they haven't experienced either enough or the right kind of augmentation.

Next week, another reality, augmented to the point of no return: Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish


Thursday, 23 November 2017

It's dark…Christmas must be coming

An e-mail arrives from a PR, announcing ‘Last-minute gifts with a difference’. ‘Last-minute’? It’s November! Perhaps we are supposed to wait until lunchtime on Christmas Eve, just to raise the tension, and then open the e-mail to see what it is they’re offering.

But Christmas is clearly coming. The geese are getting fat etcetera, and the ads are beginning to appear for Christmas wine. Because this, of course, is the one time of the year when everyone suddenly becomes aware of wine, and gets themselves into a right old paddy about which one to buy for Christmas dinner. So the advertisers want to get in early, because, like the manufacturers of nutcrackers and turkey basters, this is their one chance in twelve months to flog most people their wares.

It may be hard for aficionados of the grape to accept but, for many people, wine is a one-off, annual event, like Christmas itself. It’s simply part of the tradition, a little once-a-year indulgence. Christmas wine is like Christmas pudding, deemed an essential part of the proceedings – but, again like Christmas pudding, most people have no real idea of what it is, what’s in it, or how to discern one version from another except by its price.

This presents something of a dilemma for those of us who do actually love wine. Is Christmas the excuse to bring out a much-loved, long-awaited bottle which has been kept for a “special occasion”? Or will that result in a tedious educational session over the turkey? “Well yes, Burgundy is Pinot Noir, but…” Just when you want to enjoy your bottle, you find yourself having to explain it. Whereas you don’t have to “explain” the roast potatoes.

And is your much-treasured wine going to disappear down the neck of that guest who would be perfectly happy with a glass of Ribena? Because even if they actively dislike wine, like brussel sprouts, this is the one day of the year on which people feel duty bound to consume it.

Or for which, of course, if they’re hosting the event, they feel duty bound to purchase it. So out roll the ads, aimed at the majority of the population who will not enjoy my largesse, but will have to go out and buy their own sodding bottle.

And the key, it seems, to making a bottle of wine look suitable for Christmas is to shroud it in darkness.

Majestic to the Wine Society, Christmas wine photography is clearly inspired by

Caravaggio. The bottles invariably stand in a darkened room, glowing in reflected candlelight, or with out-of-focus lights in the background suggesting Yuletide decorations. Never mind the problems of serving it; Berry Bros present their bottles in such stygian gloom you would need a torch to find it.

In candlelight, any red looks dark and inviting, any white a fool’s gold. (Very few of these images contain rosé; you probably wouldn’t drink rosé at Christmas but, given that 90% of its appeal is its colour, you certainly wouldn’t drink rosé in the dark.)

And when you think about it, this is absurd. Because most people in this country, prior to slumping in front of the Queen’s Speech, actually have their Christmas meal in daylight.

But there’s clearly some suggestion that the posh people, the real claret-drinkers, who spend a teensy bit more than £5.99, dine in the evening; and so if a wine’s going to make your Christmas meal a special occasion, it must be shown as suitable for evening consumption. Even if you’ll be drinking it during the day. And even if it does only cost £5.99.

Just as the panic sets in, a clearly illuminated mixed case offer appears from Avery’s.

12 delicious wines hand-picked for Christmas. Well, that should set some minds at rest.

Its three reds are a Gran Reserva that you should “set aside for a Sunday roast”; a French Syrah Grenache that’s “great with casseroles”; and a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to be enjoyed “with Italian favourites like lasagne”.

That’s the Christmas dinner sorted, then. Casserole? Or lasagne?